Thing is, his backhand flip shot off the forehand fake is the one that works so well.
Using what is quickly becoming his patented move, Kotalik scored the lone shootout goal to rally the Sabres to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
“That’s the move I’m comfortable with and I’m trying to use whatever I think is going to end up in the goal,” said Kotalik, who sealed Buffalo’s 4-3 shootout win over Vancouver last month on a similar play. “But I’ve scored on different moves.”
Kotalik’s goal allowed the Sabres to overcome two one-goal deficits, improve to 5-1 in their past six and also take the edge off what was mostly a bad-news day.
Almost overshadowing the win was the team announcing forward Paul Gaustad will miss the rest of the season, requiring surgery to repair a sliced tendon in his lower left leg. Then the team lost defenceman Jaroslav Spacek, who is out indefinitely after breaking his left hand while blocking a shot in the first period.
“These things happen,” co-captain Daniel Briere said. “You look at last year when we had a lot of guys go down. … Somebody’s going to have to step up.”
Briere, who forced extra time by scoring with 3:32 left in regulation, and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Eastern Conference-leading Sabres (38-15-4). Ryan Miller stopped 23 shots through overtime and all three shootout attempts in helping Buffalo extend its home win streak to a season-best five games.
Kristian Huselius, extending his NHL-leading points streak to 15 games, and David Moss scored for the Flames, who lost their third straight game (0-1-2) – and third when holding a third-period lead.
The Flames blew a 2-0 third-period lead in a 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago on Tuesday and then squandered a 1-0 edge in a 2-1 loss at Columbus on Thursday.
“We had the lead with five minutes left and we have to hold that,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said.
“We need to bear down a little bit more,” Moss said. “We played well for the most part of the game, but they got a break and capitalized on it.”
Moss was referring to Briere’s goal, set up by Jochen Hecht, who shook off Stephane Yelle’s check to nudge the puck forward to Briere, waiting at the side of the net. Briere then stepped out and backhanded a shot that beat Miikka Kiprusoff on the short side.
Kiprusoff was otherwise solid, keeping the Flames in the game by stopping 32 shots, including 15 in the final 25 minutes.
There was his glove save on Kotalik’s snap shot from the right circle with 1:49 left in overtime. And Kiprusoff was even better a minute later, diving out and getting a glove to bat down Toni Lydman’s shot on a two-on-one break after Calgary’s Craig Conroy snapped a shot off the crossbar at the other end.
Miller was just as solid when it counted, particularly during the shootout.
He stopped Dion Phaneuf and Matthew Lombardi’s attempts to squeeze shots through his legs. And then on Calgary’s final attempt, Miller wasn’t fooled when he reached out with his right pad to foil Huselius’ trying to beat him on the far side.
“Knowing that we have Ryan back there gives us a lot of confidence,” Briere said. “We have the mentality that we only need to score one.”
Notes: The Flames had a goal disallowed late in the first period when officials ruled Moss kicked the puck in off a rebound following a Marcus Nilson shot. … Flames D Rhett Warrener returned after missing two games with an arm injury. It was is his first trip back to Buffalo since the Sabres traded him to Calgary in a deal to acquire Chris Drury in July 2003. … Spacek was playing his first game after missing three with a knee injury. … Gaustad was hurt when he inadvertently collided with Ottawa’s Dany Heatley early in the third period of Buffalo’s 3-2 win Wednesday.